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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Yasser Arafat museum opens in Ramallah

It comes two days before the 12th anniversary of the Palestinian leader's death.
Yasser Arafat died on November 11, 2004. Gerard Rancinan
Yasser Arafat died on November 11, 2004. Gerard Rancinan

RAMALLAH // A museum dedicated to Yasser Arafat, including the room where the Palestinian leader spent much of his final years under Israeli siege, will open on Wednesday ahead of the anniversary of his death.

Current Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will formally open the Yasser Arafat Museum next to the burial site of the fighter-turned-statesman in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

The museum, which cost US$7 million (Dh25.7m), is the first of its kind dedicated to the longtime leader.

The opening comes two days before Palestinians commemorate the 12th anniversary of Arafat’s death in a hospital near Paris from unknown causes.

On display over two floors are a range of Arafat’s possessions, including the famous sunglasses he wore when addressing the United Nations in 1974.

The interactive museum also features videos and photographs of key moments in Palestinian history, some from Arafat’s private collection.

The Nobel Peace Prize that Arafat won in 1994 for the Oslo Accord of the previous year, along with his Israeli negotiating partners Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, is also on display.

The final exhibit in the museum is the room where Arafat holed up after Israeli tanks surrounded his headquarters during the second intifada.

“People will get the chance to see Yasser Arafat’s legacy and history as a person and a political leader,” said museum director Mohammad Halayqa, adding that the project had been years in the making.

“They will also see the main events the Palestinian cause went through in the last 100 years.”

Arafat initially led an armed struggle against Israel but later disavowed violence and famously shook hands with Rabin on the White House lawn. However, the peace the Oslo accords were supposed to bring never materialised.

More than a decade after his death, Arafat remains a towering figure in Palestinian culture, politics and society, with politicians of all persuasions seeking to present themselves as heirs to his legacy.

Palestinians accuse Israel of poisoning Arafat, a claim the Israeli government rejects.

* Agence France-Presse